FCC Chairman Says Airlines Have Final Say on Calls


NEW YORK (AP) – A day after setting off an uproar among travelers opposed to the idea in-flight phone calls, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Chairman backtracked, saying he personally isn't in favor of calls on planes.

"We understand that many passengers would prefer that voice calls not be made on airplanes. I feel that way myself," chairman Tom Wheeler said in a Friday statement.

The role of the FCC, he said, is to advise if there is a safety issue with using phones on planes. Amending the agency's rules "will be only a technical advisory."

On Thursday, Wheeler struck a nerve with travelers when he said it was time for the agency to review "our outdated and restrictive rules" about cellphone use on airplanes.

Friday, he said the agency's proposal recognizes that there is no technical reason to prohibit the use of mobile devices.

Wheeler acknowledged that It will ultimately be up to individual airlines to decide if they want to allow calls or not.

"We believe that airlines are best positioned to make such decisions," Wheeler said.

Most airlines have said they would study the issue and survey their customers.

Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at www.twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott

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